Homeless witnesses to police beating say they were bribed to keep quiet

- Explosive new allegations have surfaced against the Alameda County Sheriff's deputies involved in the brutal beating of a car thief suspect that was caught on video.

KTVU has learned that the attorney for Stanislav Petrov will file a civil claim against the department for use of excessive force on Tuesday.

The attorney also claims that some deputies stole items from his client and gave them to homeless people nearby as a way to keep them silent and that deputies took a "trophy photo" of Petrov.

 

Surveillance video of the brutal beating from November 12, 2015 shows two Sheriff's deputies tackling 29-year-old Petrov in a San Francisco alley. The Sheriff's Office said Petrov had led authorities on a 44-mile high speed chase from the East Bay in a stolen car, which he used to ram a sheriff's patrol car.

Deputies Luis Santamaria and Paul Wieber are seen chasing Petrov down the alley near Stevenson and Clinton Park in the city's Mission District. Petrov appears to stop and surrender. He is pushed to the ground and struck by the deputies' batons multiple times on the head. His attorney, Mike Haddad, said that his client suffered a concussion and broke nearly every finger bone in his hands.

"This claim is going to put the county on notice that they're facing a lawsuit for their deputies outrageously beating and attacking Stanislav Petrov," said Haddad. Haddad said Petrov is a mechanic and can no longer use his hands to work.




The claim also alleges that at least one deputy, not Wieber or Santamaria, stole jewelry from Petrov and handed it to a homeless couple, Jerome Allen and his wife Haley Harris. The two lived in a tent near the corner of the beating.

"We've learned from witnesses that they stole a valuable gold necklace from Stanislav and then they gave it to these witnesses who saw what happened to basically bribe them and silence them," said Haddad.

"They came up to me and the first thing they said was did you like the show?" said Allen. Allen said two deputies approached him. One of them handed him some items that belonged to Petrov. "The other cop came around the corner and said, 'Hey, I found something: don't spend it all in one spot.' And he passed me a very nice gold chain with a large medallion cross on it, with diamonds, Turkish gold."

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    Harris drew KTVU Fox 2's Tara Moriarty a picture of the medallion which the couple hawked for $1,500. They said they spent the money on food, clothes and shoes. We found what appears to be the missing necklace on Petrov's Facebook page.

    Allen said he was taken aback by the deputy's offering. "At first I look around, 'Is this being recorded or something?' You know, like they were trying to set me up or something? And I'm like, well, they want me to be quiet; they want me to not say something about that ass whooping they just gave him."

    Allen said the deputy handed him money, a packet of crystal meth and some Newport short cigarettes.

    Harris described the deputy as "an older officer, bald on the top, white-gray at the bottom." She said, "He looked like he was probably on the force for quite some time, probably close to retirement because you could see the badges and everything."

    The deputy not involved with the beating who offered the bribe, has since been suspended, according to the sheriff's department. 

    "This is absolutely unacceptable, if true, it will not be tolerated," Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson told reporters at a Monday evening news conference, his voice rising in anger. "They are no better than the criminals they arrest, if these allegations are true."

    Nelson did not reveal the name of the third deputy, but acknowledged that he is a 19-year veteran of the department.

    "Nobody bribes witnesses when they're innocent," said Haddad.

    Haddad said one deputy even took a "trophy" photo of a beaten and bloodied Petrov. In the surveillance video, you can see an officer kneel down and snap a photo at around the seven-minute mark in the YouTube video released by the San Francisco Public Defender's office. 

    As for the deputies involved in the beating, Haddad said their internal reports were clearly written after they had seen the video so they could synchronize their stories.

    "The deputies waited four days to write their reports," said Haddad, "when their policy requires the reports to be completed by the end of shift."

    Deputies Luis Santamaria and Paul Wieber both wrote in their reports that they were "exhausted and dizzy" yet Wieber is the department's fitness champion and can be seen on the agency's Facebook page with trophies, posing with Sheriff Greg Ahern.

    In their reports, the deputies argue that Petrov is a five-time convicted felon who tried to kill one of their own and it's understandable why the officers were so pumped full of adrenalin that night.

    But Haddad said that line of thinking is flawed, "The problem with that argument is that this is America and this is not a country where the government can get away with beating someone with steel batons on their head without any due process."

    In addition to these new allegations, Nelson also revealed the existence of a second video, besides the surveillance camera that captured the alley beating of Petrov.

    Although both deputies involved in the beating said they did not turn on their body-worn cameras, one apparently began recording accidentally.

    "That body cam was inadvertently put on when Deputy Wieber tackled Mr. Petrov," explained Sgt. Ray Kelly, "and it was not discovered until after those reports were written."

    The video was discovered when the deputies were suspended and surrendered their equipment, about 10 days after the incident.

    Both videos are being reviewed by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon for possible criminal charges.

    Now he has the additional allegations of theft and bribery to consider.

    "It tarnishes my badge, it tarnishes everybody's badge and we don't like it," declared Sgt. Nelson. 

    The Alameda County Sheriff's Department is comprised of about 1,600 members. 

    UPDATE: Officer J.D. Nelson with Alameda County Sheriff's Office says Sheriff Greg Ahern will hold a news conference on this matter, Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the Office of Emergency Services Building at 4985 Broder Blvd. in Dublin.

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